Worthing Raiders Rugby Club started the new season in National League 2 South with a hard-fought 22-10 win away to newly promoted Exmouth on Saturday.
It was achieved in driving rain and a strong wind which made the playing conditions difficult for both sides.
The teams were evenly matched for the first five minutes before Exmouth began to exert real pressure. Having soaked up ten minutes of sustained pressure, Raiders finally launched their first meaningful attack of the game, driving the ball down field and winning a penalty which Matt McLean slotted between the posts to give Raiders the early lead against the run of play after 17 minutes.
Exmouth responded well and went straight on the attack kicking the ball for the corner. Raiders throw was not straight and from the resultant scrum Exmouth’s scrum-half broke for the line before the ball was passed along the line for Shane Cooper to touch down in the corner. Richard Cadywold successfully converted and Exmouth took the lead.
Raiders captain Liam Perkins had a try disallowed, before they were awarded a penalty try and McLean successfully converted to give Worthing a 10-7 half-time lead.
Raiders extended their lead five minutes into the second half after some good work amongst the forwards resulted in Perkins receiving the ball six metres from the Exmouth line before driving over to score. McLean again added the extras.
Cadywold kicked a penalty for Exmouth to make the score 17-10, before Worthing touched down again five minutes from time to deny Exmouth a losing bonus point.
Following some poor handling by both sides, the ball came loose and Sam Hewick fly hacked the ball down field towards the Exmouth line where a pursuing Alex Wilcockson managed to collect the ball and dive over to score.
Raiders assistant coach Ben Coulson said: “We are incredibly pleased with the result and for most parts the performance as well.
“Exmouth were hugely enthusiastic, having their first match in the league at home in front of the west country faithful. They were combative with a large pack but we nullified the threat quite efficiently for a majority of the game.”
On the performance in tough conditions, Coulson said: “We knew the weather was going to be poor but we couldn’t have prepared for the horizontal rain or strength of the wind coming off the sea.
“It was not a day to move the ball too much and that worked against us as one of our advantages was our midfield and back three. We had more pace and size in this area of the field but were unable to unleash it in the conditions.
“But we were very pleased with the performance. If you offered me a 22-10 win and four points on Saturday morning I’d definitely have taken it, especially as it was on the road against a side full of confidence.
“Towards the end of the match it was frustrating not to have collected the bonus point, we created a couple of clear-cut opportunities and let them slip.”
RAIDERS: Storer, Luke, Burns, Barlow, Redmayne, Smith, Hewick, Perkins; Peach, Montgomery, Wilcockson, Richards, McLean, Coxon-Smith, Leeming. Subs: Watson-Brooks, Gatford, Lake, Whittall, Double.